Category Archives: illustrate friday

I don’t know much about art. Thank goodness.

In an effort to encourage V to stop talking about how bad her drawings are, and to demonstrate that what’s required is just more drawing and more drawing, I dug out some of my life drawings from around 2000. I was surprised at how good some of it was (and there were some particularly good examples of drawings that are clearly a work in progress). I started drawing with some recycled A3 paper and some cheap crayons from the supermarket. I upgraded to some from the $2 shop. What I was after was marks on paper, and the vision was to keep trying to make marks that look like the model.

I’ve written about this before, but I’ve got quite a way to go before I will be able to quickly grab a good likeness. But I keep drawing. It’s like writing here. I’ve realised that since I started writing – August 1, 2005 – I’ve written the best part of 100,000 words. That’s a PhD’s worth of words. It’s a goodly sized book. I’m not sure my writing has got better, but I’ve at least kept my hand in. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, I should’ve done 100 drawings. I haven’t. Done some, but not 100. I need to get back to my drawing roots urgently.

design issues mostly resolved

It’s probably tacky to write about one’s own writing spaces, but I’m feeling very happy with the header images and general look and feel of the content at I’ve had a great deal of fun gathering the images – it’s been a challenge to capture content suggestive of aquaculture when there isn’t exactly a full strength salmon/tilapia/prawn/mussel farm next door.

There are fish in many of the images, mostly, I suspect young mullet, or perhaps smelt. The species count includes mullet, stingray, chiton, mussels, starfish, triplefins and spotties. Plus a fine selection of various algae. The birds are red billed gulls, black back gulls, and the white faced shag. Eventually every image will include a fish or an aquaculture vulture of some kind.

Here, I’ve had fun including some of the images I’ve gathered into the marginalia gift shop, and I’m in the process of creating content for an aquaculture gift shop as well. So many things to do, and so little time to do them. I notice we keep longer working hours on the weekend than we do during the week … we need to re-orientate our life and times so the working week is about rest ready for the weekend’s blitz.

three faces

I noticed there were three faces present at the celebration of Art Compass.

There were more than three people, of course, but mostly three faces.

The first face was of the artists – their looks of expectation, of simple joy, of expectation, the thrill of meeting new friends and seeing more familar faces – and the pride in seeing their work exhibited in a commercial setting. If you’ve ever had your creative work exhibited in public, it’s a great thrill. However, behind their cheery faces were looks of worry and sadness – not knowing exactly what was going to happen, hoping perhaps against hope while knowing all the while for artists like them good things only happen on this scale very occasionally. Perhaps once in a lifetime. And for some, not lucky enough to have been involved, never. And you try not to cry, but you do anyway.

The second face was of the parents, families, and friends of the artists – their faces looking time-worn, happy for their artists, glad of the moment, but their insides gnawing on the bone of inevitability. Heard it all before. Sidelined again. No real prospects. No beam of light in their lives, no relief, no drop of water for the flower in the desert. But you have to bloom anyway, you put on your brave face, and you pretend that this is good, and its all going to work out, and, if it doesn’t, well it didn’t mean anything anyway. It’s just another page to turn. It doesn’t matter that for the first time your artist has actually started to show some potential, some life, some way of communicating on a platform that can be understood, and if not understood, then at least seen. And you try not to cry, but you do anyway.

The third face was that of the studio director and the assistants – their faces looking time-worn, happy for their artists, glad of the moment, but their insides frustrated on the splinters of lost opportunity, the bone long gone. Jobs lost. Burnt out, fought out, lost out. Good things don’t happen around here any more. And you try not to cry, but you do anyway. Despite that, clinging feebly to the slightest glimmer of hope – because that is the esence of what art is – knowing full well that in the city that decides the decision was made.

Not by someone who knows the artists, their work, their potential, or their value; but rather by a faceless stream of decisions that know the cost of everything even if those decisions determine that some members of our society are valueless. That no opportunity shall be made for them, unless that opportunity is directly attributable for the movement of these people into fulltime employment.

A job.

Just what every good artist needs: a job.

I also noticed there were some faces absent at the celebration.

There seemed to be a shortage of politician faces. A shortage of the bureaucrat faces who make decisions to stifle the life and futures of sections in the community because they – the people concerned – don’t fit the template. The socio. The profile. Well, they wouldn’t, because they come from a cross-section of our community. They’re not exactly fashionable. Not part of the beautiful people. They don’t do G&Ts at ChiChi’s. There may not be enough for a lobby group, and even if there was, they can only speak through their art. But if we accept the six degrees of separation theory, there’s an artist just like the ones whose faces, minds, bodies, and spirits engaged with Art Compass, within a short reach of each of us.

And maybe they draw, paint, sculpt, print, illustrate, manipulate clay or images in photoshop – or maybe all of these things, and it is the way they can best articulate their thoughts, dreams, and aspirations to the world. They might shout, scream, exault their existance through their art. But one thing is for sure. They don’t do it under loving wing of Art Compass. They will not be heard in the context of their peers. Because faces without faces believe the artists are of no value. Even worse, the artists are worthless.

And so, Art Compass is closed. And we are all poorer for its closure. And you try not to cry, but you do anyway.


photomesa – good, free software

link to photomesaThis morning I came across some nice new (to me) software that provides the best thumbnail viewer I’ve seen. PhotoMesa. Here’s the blurb:

PhotoMesa is a zoomable image browser. It allows the user to view multiple directories of images in a zoomable environment, and uses a set of simple navigation mechanisms to move through the space of images. It also supports grouping of images by metadata available from the file system. It requires only a set of images on disk, and does not require the user to add any metadata, or manipulate the images at all before browsing, thus making it easy to get started with existing images.

Now when they say zoom, they mean ZOOM. As in over 1 million percent. Yes, 1 million percent. I stopped because I got bored. The thumbnails are clear, and it’s just a nice, easy to use, all round good system. Well done, programming team, well done indeed.

the new season

We’re starting to move steadily into the autumnal season. We’re experiencing those indecisive days – hours of rain with some heat and the fret wafting in from the sea. It can be so lovely, as long as you’re not needing the weather to be anything changeable.

Sandburg wrote about it:


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.


As a result of this changeable season, I’m working on creating a new template or two for the blog – I’ve got a couple of designs underway, and I need some more time to get them done. I’ve noticed how the weekends rush past when I’m working for us, but it’s all a bit less convenient when I’m working for my job as well. The bible talks about a time to work and a time to put work aside. I want to do my stuff, I need to work as well. It’s hard to balance everything.

Which is interesting to me – balance is the theme of my new template.


waiting, waiting, waiting…

Marica bought me a nice new camera for xmas – a Fuji F10. V.funky. None of this cable stuff, I can just rip the chip out and shove it up my laptop. *Bing* It reads it just like another drive. Love it. The F10’s very nice. Looks like any old camera, but concealed behind that plain exterior is a 6.3 mpx ccd. Nice.

I ordered a more intense chip before xmas (seeing as Santa had let it slip) and was all ready to get digital over xmas. Sadly the email came through…see you later in ‘06. Poop. And not just ‘06, but the 9th. Thinks: damn near 2007.

Today’s the 9th. I did get an email saying your chip’s shipped. Waiting, waiting, waiting… how many sleeps to go NOW?


tough subjects in a tough market

I’m always interested in people who have looked over into the abyss, and who come back to tell the story. It’s great when their story reaches out and touches people; and even better when they manage to tell stories that make a contribution towards positive change for other travellers.

I was thrilled to read today that my must-read-blog pal, Trevor Romain, has scored the award for Best Independent Video Series Aged 5 – 8. Great news, Trevor, congrats.

Again, for those who voted for us, thank you all so very much. We won the award for Best Independent Video Series Aged 5 – 8. We are still in the running for the big award, which will be announced at the event. The Kids First Awards is a big deal for us because it’s like the Oscars for kids. We are so grateful, not only to those who voted for us, but to everyone who worked so hard on producing the series. Production on the next three episodes starts in December. Watch this space for more information.

(I’m happy to share some more good news! We were also awarded the Parent’s Choice Gold Award for our video “What On Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?” and the silver for “Bullies Are A Pain In The Brain.”)


stacking rocks

When I first saw the word ‘tranquility’ as the theme of the week on Illustration Friday, I felt more than a little bit stupid because I couldn’t quite say the word in English – it always sounded wrong. We’ve got the film ‘Chocolat’ on tape (based on the Joanne Harris book of the same name). As pronounced there, it becomes ‘tron-keel-a-tay’.

Chocolat, the book, is beautifully written. I envy that story-telling skill. While I enjoy the film, the book captures a different nuance to the extent that they’re like two different views of the same shared story. Perhaps like hearing a well loved story told by different members of a family, or by two old friends. No real surprise there – afer all, the book was written by the author, the film was made by Lasse Halstrom. We first saw the film on Easter Saturday at the Penthouse cinema in Brooklyn. That would be Brooklyn, Wellington. Easter weather in Wellington is often the first foretaste of winter, and the Easter Saturday of 2001 was no exception. Since then, we must’ve seen the film 10,000 times, and I’ve read the book at least a couple of times (maybe more).

Tranquility. What a topic. I was anything but tranquil, and my drawings were too dreadful even for the web.

I took the opportunity of a warm early spring day to work on what, for me, is one of the most tranquility provoking activity I know – stacking stones. There’s something essentially calming in stacking stones – the minor dents and bulges have to be dealt with by turning and slight movements to find the balance points.

Stacking stones is not essentially a visual activity, although the results are attractive. You can’t just go from the look of the stone. Instead you have to feel for the lines of inner balance, the hidden gravity of the stone. It’s a lot like dealing with people – they’re not what they appear from the dents and bulges on the outside. Instead it’s really about finding the merits of their inner value, their hidden gravity.

Of course the other aspect of dealing with people is the dents and bulges they do have on the inside.

[August 23, 2005] A few days later, I found Trevor Romain (for me, one of the must read blogs of the day) had blogged his variation on stacking rocks. I like it, I’d love to visit the Okavango.



ink and coloured pencil drawing of souls looking...I recently created this little drawing inspired by word from Illustration Friday: ‘Karma’. I festered for a week thinking about the image and the idea. The lights were on but no one was home in terms of ideas – good karma, bad karma, circles, endless beginnings, beginning endlessness.

After this week’s events I’m less convinced about being paid back, rewarded or punished by the universe. I suspect it doesn’t give a toss about dust.

The image finally arrived today in the middle of a fairly dull meeting – see – meetings are not all useless. If you can come up with a drawing or two that’s all good. The reason why I gave so much though about what the image should be is I’m not sure about past lives or future lives. It does make sense (in case there is a future life) to make the best use of your time in this life. Think of it as being insurance.

What I do think is, no matter how networked we become, we’re still a single entity trying to make our way through the chaos and the wonderful void – and it makes meeting up with a kindred soul all the more precious and joyful.

C’mon over, bring your island a little closer…let’s start a continent.

[update: September 4, 2005] For Father’s Day, Zofia gave me a copy of Richard Hall’s excellent book, ‘How to gaze at the southern stars‘ – Awa Press 2005. Richard is the man who put the zeal in zealot, and ran the astronomy course I completed at Carter Observatory. Highly recommended, by the way.

The book cotains a quote from Thomas Huxley (1887), a contemporary of my hero, Mrs Darwin’s little boy, Charles. This is what Huxley had to say:

The known is finite, the unknown is infinite; intellectually we stand on an islet in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability. Our business in every generation is to reclaim a little more land.


Recently, the word from Illustration Friday was ‘Metropolitan’.

Great word. Reminds me of Fritz Lang’s great movie – a movie I pretended to join a film society when I was a teen in order to see. Festival / Art House movies were hard to find in medieval New Zealand, and action needed to be taken in order to see them. Sneaked in to see Easy Rider (under age) and was mortified to see my maths teacher and her husband (the Deputy Principal).

The image is of a happy cyborg looking out over a view similar to the one I have from my office. Yes, my view genuinely is like that. Some of the buildings are slightly different, granted, but the look and feel is much the same. Um, and quite often the same colour lately…